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How to be a Media Darling

Doug Casement from Renaissance tells about building relationships and pitching for coverage with mainstream media

Doug Casement

Doug Casement joined Renaissance a few years ago; prior to which he was a technology journalist. He came along today to provide a foil to the day's proceedings and be the cynical curmudegeon of the day. He contends that the mainstream media still has a place, it can deliver:

  • General publicity and profile
  • Increased awareness in a target audience
  • It helps boost word-of-mouth (what viral marketing used to be...)
  • If SEO and content are similar, mainstream media can make the difference
  • Multiple information streams—the gestalt effect, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts

But you need to remember that everybody sells ... even you. You need to answer these questions:

  • Can I trust you?
  • Do you understand my issues?
  • Do you care?
  • Are you committed to working with me?

Because people do business with people ... that they like and trust.

Given his experience in journalism, Casement had some good lessons for the most successful strategies to engage with journalists. Some press myths to ignore:

  • The press is not always adverserial—they're just often busy
  • That influencing the press takes lunch, trips or tacky giveaways
  • But ... not all publications (or journalists for that matter) are equal

Questions you shouldn't ask of journalists:

  • Do you have a technology section?
  • So you're a weekly—how often do you publish?
  • Can I have my advert next to the story
  • I'm booking an advert, any chance of an interview?
  • I'm considering advertising—but I need a front page story first ...

Seduction for dummies:

  • Journalists are people too—find out what interests them, invest in the relationship, engage with them—not just when you want something
  • Don't hide behind "off the record"

Simple tactics that work when engaging with journalists:

  • Read, and understand, the publication. Understand the "editorial window" of the publication, understand the readership, what's the angle of the story and the relevance for the particular journalist/publication
  • Don't call at deadline time!
  • Never demand or harass them
  • Regard it as a sales call—be comfortable talking

The Zen of press releases:

  • Short and simple
  • Don't tell fibs or exaggerate
  • Delete superlatives, adjectives and adverbs
  • Customise to fit their editorial window
  • Don't shotgun—the press love exclusives!
  • Press releases should be teasers

Above all else ... be relevant!